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Zephie 07-10-2012 11:44 AM

I feel dumb - how to attach something to metal

I never had shop when in HS or any instruction on using tools when younger. Fifteen years ago I got interested in DIY. I've learned a lot, occasionally with instruction and mostly by reading and by the trial & error method. I don't want my work to look shoddy so I'm dang careful to do things neat & tidy. I'm now moderately competent and have built a landscape timber retaining wall, blown insulation into an attic (the hidden advantage of being 5'1"), hung, taped & mudded drywall, installed trim, replaced a counter top & installed the sink, modified cabinets, installed carpet, and built simple furniture & shelving out of wood. I'm telling you this so you'll know I'm not clueless in general. Well, at least most the time. :)

I'm now totally stuck and feel really stupid. I've never worked with metal and don't know what I'm doing wrong. Wood seems so much more forgiving of mistakes than metal.

Here's the situation: We have an apartment in the lower level of our house and I'm working on a bunch of little projects before the tenant's move in next weekend. We had a closer installed on the main entrance steel door to prevent it from slamming. It worked except the sheet metal jam was deforming each time the door was opened and two of the screw holes had deformed so much they barely held their screws.

This is not a prehung door with an integral jam but instead it looks like it was put together on site. The sheet metal jam is 6 1/2" wide and behind it there's thicker metal (1/2" wide) along the edge closest to the door and along the other edge there's wood (3/4" wide). The closer attachment was attached to the sheet metal only and not to the metal or wood behind it.

My plan was to cut a piece of plywood (7"h x 6.5") and attach it with screws to the wood & metal framing behind the sheet metal. I would then attach the closer to the plywood.

Anyway, I have the plywood, sanded & painted so it will be unobtrusive and holes drilled. Now I can't get the screws driven in (they stop almost immediately). I've already drilled holes in the jam and I'm afraid to make any more or make them bigger.

Some questions:

It was really really hard to drill through the sheet metal and into the thicker metal behind. Is that the norm? My drill bits say they work for metal.

I'm supposed to drill the hole the same size as the screw - right?

Do I need to do anything to the hole after drilling? (I think there might be a bur or two on some holes).

This is taking a lot longer than I ever expected to do. I'm feeling really stupid that I can't figure this out. I've just read about self-drilling metal screws. Should I have done that? Can I still do that?

I appreciate any and all advice.

CopperClad 07-10-2012 11:55 AM

Hmmm.. I'm trying to picture the situation you have going on and I can't. Sounds like you have a light gauge metal door attached to a thicker steel?? Anyway to take a photo? And yes, ideally you would use a self-drilling screw to go through metal..

ddawg16 07-10-2012 02:24 PM

If the jamb is removable....then use small bolts to hold the bracket for the closer.

Maintenance 6 07-11-2012 06:37 AM

I almost get the impression that there is a re-inforcement in the jamb to install a closer to. Maybe you should try tapping threads into the thicker metal and use machine screws to attach the closer. You might not need the plywood.

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